Wuxiaworld > CHALLENGES OF PASTOR’S KID > 11 Chapter Ten: PARENTAL TIME DENIED

11 Chapter Ten: PARENTAL TIME DENIED



In the New Testament church, one of the qualifiers for the acceptance of a preacher or an elder is the ability to govern his home well, his children inclusive (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9). If this standard is applied in the choice of church leadership today, so many leaders in our churches will be found wanting and will be relieved of their pastoral responsibilities.

Running a godly family is going to look quite simple on the surface, but it is not going to be as easy as it looks. It will be very much demanding, much more demanding to a preacher than it is for an average secular father who is not interested in God or a godly family. The problem is, most preacher-parents are not even ready to do as much as a secular father would do, talk less of do some more, and they still desire a godly family.

This is another major issue, with the Pastor's Kids. With all the much expected of them, so little is given to them in terms of parental attention, home training and moral upbringing at the home front by the parents. Majority of these are delegated to maids, uncles, aunties, domestic staffs, and church members. Although one of the main responsibilities of a pastor is to preach to men and help them find a solution to their problems, yet, one of the major challenges of the Preacher's Kid is that his father hardly has enough time to listen to him. What an irony!

Not all pastoral families represent the ideal family. Most preacher-parents are great role models, both in the church and in their immediate communities but they are very far from being role models in their own homes. It will not be very unfair to say that the ministry has taken over their world.

This is a great mistake amongst most preacher-parents. There is no clear distinction between time devoted to church service and time for the family. Family time is stolen by the congregation, either directly or indirectly. It is commonplace to see Pastor's Kids competing with the church for their dad's or mom's attention. Pastors care so much for strangers and spend as much time with them as they demand, but do not pay as much attention to their immediate family members. If you ask them, most Pastors' Kids believe that their parents see the ministry as much more important than their children. Their preacher-parents are so focused on their congregation and do not seem to care so much about them.

It may look strange trying to fight for your father's attention, but this is what most Pastors' Kids always have to do. They constantly struggle to get their parents' audience. They have no real relationship with their fathers and barely even speak, except if it has to do with assisting in ministry work. These, most times, deny the Preacher's Kids of the ability to have an open and honest discussion with their parents. Being adults, most pastors may not feel the absence of these discussions, but the children do, and when they do not have it, it tells on them as they grow.


Every Pastor's Kid misses his father whenever he is not available each time he is needed, but he cannot complain, because everybody feels he should understand. So he pretends to. Hearing a sermon on 'love and intimacy among members of the same family' is really awkward when his dad is the one preaching it; his life is far from it, but he does not know it. Everyone thinks that the pastor only goes to work once a week; just on Sundays, but only his family thinks otherwise. He does not see his father as working for God alone. From his own perspective, his dad works for and takes orders from both God and about 300 other employers or bosses labeled as "congregants" who are all co-directors with God. It is not actually the part of working for God that denies him his father's presence at home, but the part of taking orders from the other hard-to-please bosses.

Honestly, several Preachers' Kids rarely know their father. This is why most of them don't want to be a Preacher's Kid. They just want to be a regular child, or normal teenager, or just an ordinary youth; no more no less, no strings attached. As a normal kid, he has a right to his biological father, just as much as others have to theirs too. However, most church members are quick to forget that the man in question, their own spiritual father, is first his biological father before he becomes a minister of the gospel which makes him their spiritual father!

The main issue here is not just that the Preacher's Kid has to share his father with all the other church members, but that, most times, the members seem to have the best of him and leave the P.K. with the leftover. They make him spend the best of his time, energy, and most times, the best of his resources on church related activities and only release him to come attend to his family when he is almost totally drained at the end of the day. He comes home quite alright and sits in the sitting room, but there is a very distant look in his eyes. He is so worked up that he gets unreasonably touchy and one harmless statement from his teenage child can get him to yell uncontrollably at the child.

Whatever you tell him at such times, he does not hear, because in his mind, he is still in his counseling room attending to people, or in his study preparing the message for the next service, though physically present and bodily tired. "Who is interested in the petty complaints of a teenager when there are more important church matters to attend to"? his reactions seem to announce to you. He wobbles wearily to his room, exhausted, and sleeps off the next minute, sometimes without dinner. He wakes up in the middle of the night and locks himself up in his study, either praying or studying.

The Kids keep wondering why the congregation must get the attention of his preacher-father when he is fully awake with a sound mind, while he gets his attention when he is only at his worst. Not many people understand how he feels when a major one of his parent's job descriptions is to listen to other people's problems but they are never chanced to listen to his.

Other people's problem seem more important than his, and as long as the others find solution to their problems through the assistance of his father, and they leave rejoicing, he also is expected to be happy, whether his problem is solved or not.

This could lead to resentment and bitterness in a P. K.'s life. He either assumes that he is not so important to his father, or that the people he pastors dominate so much of his time and do not allow him to have time for his immediate family. If he feels more at home with the former, the bitterness is directed at the father, but if with the latter, the church bears the brunt.

If this thought is not attended to on time, he may begin to hate his parent's congregation. He hates them because they deny him the presence and the attention of his parents. This anger can develop into a terrific rage that can make a Preacher's Kid hate pastoring as he grows up.

This is the major challenge Preacher's Kids have with their families. It is the reason why they unconsciously protest. They do not really have a dad. They only have a full time, Resident Pastor who treats every member of the family more like a member of his congregation, rather than a member of his family. Most pastors invest massive amounts of time in their ministry, church leaders and congregation, to the neglect of the family front so much that their children can be said to grow up with single parenting. The father is only seen once in a while, but his impact is not really felt.

Naturally, homes where there are no fathers are called single parenting homes. Children raised in such homes always have some unusual level of audacity to challenge any constituted authority, because they did not grow up with a father figure they can respect.

So many Pastors' Kids have almost gotten to this stage. Presently, most of them have been driven to a stage where they are externally obedient but internally rebellious. This is a very difficult stage to get to.

The next stage is either open rebellion or internal depression. All these simply because there is a huge gap between the man and his family!

A WORD OF ADVICE TO THE PREACHER PARENT

This generation measures your importance by how busy you are. You can feel so very important because the people want you 24/7 so much that you do not have time for your own self, talk less of the kids. This is not particular to pastors, it happens to some businessmen too, but it is more obvious with pastors because they are public figures. Struggling to balance marriage, parenting, ministry and at times secular work, for those who are part-time ministers can be so demanding, but God's grace can see you through each of these successfully.

Every pastor, no matter how good he is on the pulpit, and to his member, needs to work on how to become a good dad, or a better one. One of the reasons why we have so many problems with Preacher's Kids is because the pastors' priorities are out of order. Rearrange your order of priority.

Your first relationship is to God. Your second is to your immediate family, wife and children inclusive. Your third is to the church or your ministry. Most pastors will claim this is what they believe in, but if you check the way they allocate their daily time consumption you will discover the exact opposite.

The most qualitative and most quantitative of their time is spent on the church, which makes the church their priority. The second is with God. The third is their wife, and the last, and in this case the least, if there is any affection left at all, is their children. Why will the children not turn out to be something else?

For so many pastors, it is a forgotten fact that God instituted the home long before He instituted the church. If you have to choose any over the other, choose the first. Do not be too preoccupied saving the world that your children will end up in hell before you know it. What good news is it if you keep disciplining church leaders but find it difficult to disciple your kids? Of what use is it, spending all of your time, energy and resources saving the world but losing your family? What shall it profit you as a minister if you save the whole world, but lose the soul of your own children?

Take it or leave it, your family is your major priority. The most important person in the congregation besides God is your wife, and then your kids, then other families. If the most important person in your congregation is the richest donor in the church or the most committed member, you are sacrificing the destinies and the future of your children in exchange for success and fulfillment in ministry. No apologies: the Bible agrees that whosoever does not take every necessary care of his family is worse than an unbeliever and does not qualify to be a pastor (1 Tim. 3:4,5). This 'care' is not just monetary provision; it is all of their needs in its entirety, both tangible and intangible. And most times, the intangible ones seem more important than the tangibles.

Be like Noah who had a complete grip over his family. "By faith Noah, when warned about the things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family." (Hebrews 11:7) In saving the world, his first target was to save his family, but in saving his family, he ended up saving the whole world.

Your Family Comes First

Putting God first and taking care of the flock is a lame spiritual excuse for the neglect of family obligations. God will not appreciate it if one loses his family to the world, while chasing after other sinners in the world. As a pastor, your family is your first congregation. It is like having a flock within a flock. Your first calling is to be the priest in your home before you become the priest outside the home.

Most of your congregants who are professionals will not even answer a call to come attend to a work-related issue after closing from the office by 5:00 pm. The same will want you to leave your family to come settle a quarrel between a husband and his wife in their house at 11:45 pm. You may not feel comfortable turning down their request, but do not do it at the expense of the unity of your family.

You may be catching your fun travelling around the world preaching at crusades, establishing churches, or pastoring flocks, but your children do not see it as fun. Take care of the souls of your children as you do the larger flock. Church members will come and go, but your family will remain. If you invest so much in church members to the neglect of your family, when they decide to leave (and they can leave for any flimsy reason under heaven), you may lose all of your investments. Then you will be left with the family whom you have invested little or nothing on.

Never put your ministry before you family. The Lord will not only hold you accountable for being a pastor to your members, but also for being a father to your biological children. Thank God for your achievements: the multi-million dollar buildings, best-selling books, the global preaching tours, and the jam-packed stadium crusades. All these mean nothing to a Preacher's Kid if he has to sacrifice the love, care and compassion of his father for them.

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Spend Time With Them

Some pastors use ministry to excuse workaholism; this is not fair. Genuinely balanced pastors should make their families a priority, without dodging their ministry responsibilities either.

The ministry needs you quite alright, but your children need you as much as the ministry does if not much more. Your first ministry is to your own family. Your son needs both your care and your affection. Do not deny him any of the two. Your unavailability at the home front when it matters most to them may not mean too much to you, but it means the world to them. Scriptures admit that nothing can separate us from the love of God, our heavenly Father, just as much as nothing should be strong enough to separate you from the love of your children.

Once in a while, forget about every other routine and shift your focus of operation to your family. Do not be a visiting father; one who is never seen except on special occasions. Make them feel wanted, make them feel needed. Make them feel more important than anything else, including the church members, because they actually are!

You will need to take some time to explain your busy lifestyle to them. Let your children know the high demand your job has placed on your time, but despite that, let them also know that they weigh highly on your scale of preferences and that nothing comes before them besides God. Do not only tell them this with your mouth but also let them see it in your behavior. Be a loving father at home, and not just a pastor. Give them your time and attention.

If you discover that the church has unavoidably taken over the best of your time, the little period you have to spend with them at home, make it memorable. Do things that will linger for long in their memory. Play with them as much as time will permit you. Help them with their homework once in a while. Make them laugh, give them fatherly hugs (they cannot get that elsewhere because they have no other father), pull their cheeks, eat together on the same dining table. Drop them off in school, pick them up from school. Play football with them, exercise together, take them on excursions, go on vacations together. Take them out for lunch, or go watch a movie with them. Just do anything; just anything that will make them feel the warmth of a father. It does not have to be every day, but it does not have to be once in a blue moon either.

Better still, schedule time for your family and children that worshipers cannot interrupt. It could be once a week, or once in a fortnight, but keep to it. When your children know that you have placed a high priority on your time with them, and they know it outweighs all others, it creates in them a deep sense of security and an assurance that their father on earth is still as interested in them as their Father in heaven.

If need be, educate the troublesome members of the church on the reason why your time with your family is so important and why every incursion into it must be averted. If you do not educate them and you allow them override your time at will, if any of your children becomes unmanageable, they will not share part of the blame. They will be the first to crucify you for it.

Do not equate love with material goods. They may have all of the material possessions anyone in their shoes may need, and still not be shown love! Love them the same way you love your members, if not more. Love them enough to give them your time and attention without them having to struggle for it.

Be ready to listen whenever they have something to say. Be patient with them. Most pastors are seen as very patient in the church, because they have all the time to listen to what everyone has to say, but they do not have the patience and the time to listen to their children at home.

Teach them and guide them which way to go, but do not assume God over their lives by dictating every one of their moves.

Do Not Put The Task On God

Combining fatherhood and the challenges of either a growing or a thriving ministry may not be easy, but it is not impossible. It is natural to think that the God, whose vineyard you are watering should in turn water your own garden. There is nothing wrong with this ideology, although it has placed the whole responsibility of raising a godly Preacher's Kid on God, exonerating the man of God of all blames. Truthfully, God indeed will water your garden, but since He cannot come down to water it Himself in human form, He has chosen to water it through your hands, and if you fail Him in this regard, you have indeed failed not just yourself, but generations yet unborn whose lives are now at stake.

Learn to have a balance between your church and your home. Besides your calling into the ministry, let nothing be deemed more important than the peace of mind and the well being of your children, including the people you are called to pastor. If there is no peace at the home front, whatever peace is in the ministry is temporal.

It is a doctrine from the pit of hell that the less a minister and his wife have to worry about their family, the more they can serve God. It is not true. No one demands that you should neglect or abandon the ministry for the family, but your inability to create a balance between the two may be disastrous in the nearest future.